- Wednesday 25 March 2020
Did you know that children only spend around 15% of their waking lives in a classroom? (W Berliner and D Eyre) In the wake of the coronavirus, that percentage has reached zero in many places around the world. With some schools closed already, parents and carers worldwide are exploring how they can best support their children’s love of learning at home.
When you think about how much we learn during only a relatively small fraction of our childhoods, you realise that a productive and supportive learning environment at home can make a world of difference, too! No matter the circumstances, all children can benefit from these environments; parents and carers can make an enormous difference to children’s educational success.
Foster a positive mindset for education
Children are hardwired with the need to learn about the world around them, and an insatiable curiosity to do so. But the spark of their love of learning can be effectively ‘put out’ by negative experiences. They may lose confidence, internalising the idea that there are things they’re just never going to be good at; they may lose interest, not seeing the reason behind what they’re learning; or they may consider school to be a chore.
Also, while curriculum and grades matter, they can also make children think of education as a race that only some can win. No matter our age, people are afraid of being judged. If they feel like you might look at them negatively when they make a mistake, they may stop opening up. So make your home a safe, judgment-free space where they can ask questions, be curious and fail forward.
Whether you’re an adult or a child, getting great results at something takes time and effort. Expose your children to opportunities to find what areas of education bring them joy. If they put the time in, imagine what they can achieve!
Role-modelling a love of learning can make a big difference here. After all, your children probably think you’re pretty cool (even if they won’t admit it!). Talk with them about what you find interesting, what makes your own eyes light up and why. And if your children develop their own passions, help them explore these too!
Finally, encourage questions, from when they’re in early years asking ‘why?’ to when they’re teenagers wondering the big things. That innate curiosity is one of the most precious gifts we have: to ask and learn.
Talk to your children
Research shows that children who talk to adults have better educational outcomes. Give your children the gift of time, and of talking—answering all those questions and helping them to think deeply. Before children attended schools, they learned from their community, from people older than them passing down their knowledge. There’s plenty of meaningful conversations you can have with your children at any age.
Ask the experts
Your child’s teacher is a highly-trained expert in understanding your child’s developmental level, and how to impart knowledge. Often, we don’t talk to our children’s teachers until something is wrong, but they can offer a wealth of advice and are rarely asked to share it. They genuinely want to see your child achieve great things, so start the conversation!
Give them the tools to succeed
Make sure your children have easy access to opportunities to learn, from books and educational resources in the home to online resources like educational games. Public libraries are free and offer a whole world of learning at your child’s fingertips, and as well as books and magazines, they have plenty of digital resources to entertain and educate.
If your child’s school is closed or you are worried it may close soon, you may feel panicked worrying about how you can best keep them both entertained and intellectually stimulated. It’s not an easy time, but your school will do their best to support both your child and you.
Remember, some of the conversations you have about learning, whether in easy circumstances or difficult ones, can spark that love of learning in incredible ways. At the same time, learning is a lifelong process, and perhaps you’ll learn amazing things from your child in turn.
Do you need some inspiration on where to get started? Click here to discover a great range of resources at your fingertips.